For years, highly selective colleges have sought out singularly talented applicants in the hope of forming a well-rounded class. Decades ago, highly selective colleges sought out well-rounded students…students who were good (though not great) at such activities as violin, baseball, basketball, and tennis. Back in the day, the three-sport varsity athlete was a get for highly selective colleges. Now? The three-sport varsity athlete is more of a joke to these same schools. These colleges aren’t after the student who racks up the most varsity letters. They’re after the fastest 100 backstroker in the country who will help their swim team claim the league title. They’re interested in the shooting guard with the sick three-point shot and stellar on-the-ball defense who will help their team climb out of Ivy League basketball’s basement.
But what never ceases to amaze us is that even though most parents seem to be aware that colleges no longer seek out well-rounded students, they don’t see their kids as well-rounded. Even as they offer up their litany of activities to us from volunteering with Key Club to working in a soup kitchen to riding the bench on the varsity soccer team to collecting coins. Oy vey. Maybe it’s just because parents think their kids are so special. Maybe it’s because they think their kid is the exception. So many do. Either way, it’s high time that parents got the hint that when they’re inclined to offer up a litany of activities, there’s a good chance it’s an indicator their kid has no singular special talent.
Ivy Coach’s Founder, Bev Taylor, wrote an article years ago for “Peterson’s” about Talented College Applicants. The points she raised then still ring true in highly selective college admissions. And, by the way, here’s a fun fact for our readers: Back when the article was first published, AOL was the search engine of choice and if you searched “college” or “university” on AOL, this article popped up first. In many ways, it is what launched our business.